Europe Markets

Europe shares reverse direction to close lower as US stocks fall

European stocks closed lower on Thursday, taking their lead from Wall Street after weak U.S. manufacturing data.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index traded higher earlier in the day, but ended roughly flat.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended provisionally down 0.5 percent, with the German DAX down 0.6 percent. The French CAC closed roughly flat.

U.S. stocks fell after a key indicator of U.S. manufacturing sector disappointed. The ISM manufacturing index for August came in at 49.4, which was the weakest reading since January and indicated sector contraction.

In Asia, stock markets traded mostly lower overnight, despite a better-than-expected reading on China's manufacturing sector. China's official manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) for August rose to 50.4, beating a Reuters estimate of 49.9 and the July print of 49.9.

Slumping oil prices also helped push stocks lower. At the European stock market close, Brent and light crude futures were down by roughly 2.5 percent, trading at $45.75 per barrel and $43.50 respectively.

This pressured energy stocks with BP, Statoil, Subsea 7 and Seadrill closing down by 2 percent or more.

Meanwhile, Pernod Ricard shares ended 2.2 percent higher after it highlighted improving sales in China.

Shares of Roche closed nearly 1 percent lower, in spite of the Swiss company announcing that its cancer treatment, Tecentriq, had produced positive results in a Phase III study.

Sterling jumped over 1 percent against the U.S. dollar to trade at around $1.329 after data showed that the U.K. manufacturing industry saw a strong post-Brexit vote rebound in August.

Meanwhile, investors are gearing up for the all-important U.S. jobs data due on Friday. The official nonfarm payrolls report may determine if the U.S. Federal Reserve increases interest rates in September.

"If we are right about August, and the hourly earnings number undershoots consensus, as we expect —thanks to a long-standing and persistent calendar quirk — the chances of a September rate hike will recede," Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note Wednesday.

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